It is our humanity that makes us beautiful

“Poetry matters. Poetry is what elevates the banal and neglected object to a realm of art. It can transform the thing that might have made people fearful into something that invites them to look, and look a little longer, and maybe even understand.”

“It is our humanity, and all the potential within it, that makes us beautiful.”

(Aimee Mullins)

If you care to look and wonder, magic can happen.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have met several people whose lives aren’t exactly what you would call easy. Life has been hard on them. Some of them have lost their loved ones, others have done things to themselves that have left their bodies scarred in more ways than I believed was possible.

Yet all of them had decided for themselves that, whatever was left of their lives, they still wanted to make the most of it.

So we came to meet each other. And time after time again, in between the moments of tragedy, in between those moments of failure and fear for future mishaps, we found small stories that made all of us wonder: “How did that happen? How did you manage to pull that off? How have you managed to get up time after time and to make it to here? Who taught you those things?”

In all of these stories, no prosthetics of any kind were involved. Neither was it some sort of magic. It was a conversation (or a series of them), a moment in which people could reveal some parts of their story that had been overshadowed for years. Stories in which they began to get some hope that things could become better for real.

Over more than a decade now I have wondered about what poetry really means and how it matters. And I think, like Aimee Mullins, that it is something which invites us to look a little longer and maybe even understand.

What I understand now is that poetry itself is not what matters, it is what we have done to make this poetry happen that matters the most.

In that sense, this world is in great need of poetry, since in this world every single day people are doing something valuable, something worth referring to in a way that it invites us to look a little longer and maybe even understand.

One thought on “It is our humanity that makes us beautiful

  1. Ludo says:

    “De Poëzie , die als kenmerk de taal heeft, is misschien wel de meest menselijke en de minst wereldse der kunsten, omdat hier het eindprodcut het dichts blijft bij het denken dat ertoe inspireerde…”

    “Van alle dingen van het denken sluit de poëzie het dichst bij het denken aan, en een gedicht is minder een ding dan welk kunstwerk dan ook; niettemin zal zelfs een gedicht, onverschilling hoe lang het als levend gesproken woord bewaard is gebleven in de herinnering van de bard en zijn toehoorders tenslotte worden ‘gemaakt’, dat wil zeggen worden neergeschreven en getransformeerd in een tastbaar ding onder de dingen, omdat het geheugen en de gave der herinnering, waaruit alle verlangen naar overgankelijkheid wordt geboren, tastbare dingen nodig hebben en daarin gestalte moeten krijgen, willen ze zelf niet vergaan.” Hannah Arendt in Vita Activa over ‘werken’.

    Democritus prees Homerus daar hij ‘uit het materiaal van woorden de kosmos bouwde’

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